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There’s a distinction between accidental discharge and negligent discharge. Accident implies you were taking caution and circumstances beyond your control intervened. Accidents happen, negligence doesn’t or can’t when firearms are involved. We trust our police officers to know how to handle their weapon.

Last week a trusted Florida law enforcement officer entered a courtroom with a chambered round and managed to discharge an AR-15 in the hallway. Reports say he was “demonstrating” the weapon when the incident occurred. The round was fired into the floor and luckily no one was hurt.

Would you believe this isn’t that rare? In 2014 alone dozens of cops have been guilty of mishandling their weapon, in some cases killing their own partner. For some reason this surprises me.

I wrote last week about irresponsible athletes and their weapons. That list now extends to police officers.

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The following officers failed to follow the simple guideline: A trained soldier is in control of their weapon at all times.

8. Unnamed Officer, Naugatuck, CT.

Just this past March an anonymous Naugatuck police officer accidentally fired a shotgun inside of his squad car, putting a nice hole in his roof. They say the shotgun was in the rack when the negligent discharge occurred.

A spokesman for the department said officers are required to keep shotguns “cruiser ready” with a round in the tube, but not in the chamber.

That qualified as a “duh” moment. Improper storage and handling of a firearm if I’ve ever seen it.

Local news media caught wind of the incident but only after filing the Freedom of Information Act.

7. BART Officer, San Francisco, CA

Negligence kills. This January, while conducting a search, a 10 year transit cop shot and killed his partner. The death was accidental, the discharge negligent. The Bay Area Transit Authority has had problems with weapons before.

They are the same force responsible for the shooting death of an unarmed train passenger on New Years Day 2009.

The shooting grabbed national headlines.

6. Anonymous Sergeant, Chicago, IL

In February a Chicago police officer (again unnamed) negligently discharged his weapon at a police station in the South Loop. The round burst a water pipe, causing water to cascade down on computers and assorted electronics. 15 prisoners being held at the station were transferred while repairs were made.

It sounds like everyone had a good laugh in Chicago, considering the light media attention it received.

5. David Counceller, Connersville, IN

David Counceller is the Chief of Police in Connersville and also guilty of negligent firearm handling. He blamed his clothes for the incident, which was caught on surveillance cameras. The owner of the gun store where the shooting occurred said he’d never witnessed a negligent discharge in 34 years as store owner.

Anybody else expect more firearm responsibility from the Chief of Police? I’m glad he’s safe.

4. Sgt. J.D. Malzahn, Raleigh, NC

Months ago, while responding to a call investigating a man waving a handgun, Sgt. Malzahn negligently discharged his sidearm, wounding his partner in the process. Malzahn was a 4 year veteran of the Raleigh Police Department at the time of the incident.

3. Unnamed State Trooper, Montgomery County, PA

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Not trying to heap it on, as this office has suffered enough. His negligent discharge killed his wife and unborn child in March of this year. The state trooper was disassembling his .45 when it discharged.

2. Unnamed Officer, Batavia, New York

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On April 22nd, 2014 an officer in New York negligently discharged his weapon during a routine welfare check. The round harmlessly ricocheted off the ground. The officer received a punishment typical to others I’ve found while researching this piece.

Loss of one days pay.

1. Timothy Huggins, Edgewater, FL

Huggins negligently discharged his AR-15 while investigating a phony hostage situation in May of this year. A 25 year old veteran of Afghanistan who was on the scene claimed that Huggins was careless while handling the AR-15.

No one was hurt in the incident, which is just one of hundreds of negligent discharges involving police already in 2014.

Lets take a quick firearm safety course, blog style:

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I don’t care if the magazine is removed from your weapon. Always check the chamber for a round. You absolutely must be aware of this at all times. I bet you anything they taught this at the police academy.

Remove your finger from the trigger unless you’re absolutely ready to shoot. At no time should your finger be on the trigger until you intend to fire. You can get it there in a hurry from a ready position, we all know this.

Treat every weapon like a loaded weapon. That means muzzle awareness. Always. Handle your weapon like it’s about to fire at all times and no one will get hurt.

Let’s not be that cocky Army Ranger from Black Hawk Down. “This is my safety,” holding up trigger finger.

Be safe AR-15 readers. A lot of cops out there who can’t properly handle a weapon.

  • steve momot

    there have been a couple of cases here in south florida as well… “while cleaning weapons.” without doubt, all of these incidents involve GROSS NEGLIGENCE. this is stuff i learned in the boy scouts over 50 years ago, and STILL PRACTICE!!!. it’s that simple…handling guns is something special, a special responsibility, not to be taken lightly, as so many of these cops seem to be doing…

    • ballhogjoni

      Great point! Handle your weapons as if they are always loaded and never deviate away from that mentality.